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Old 05-04-2019, 02:51 PM   #1
webrian
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The 1977 Kansas City Royals (a groovy do-over)

Thanks for clicking on this thread.

You are now in the year 1977. And while we’re on the subject of threads, you are now wearing a dark grey leisure suit over a mango-coloured silk shirt with hang-glider collars and the top four buttons undone. Do the hustle!

The Kansas City Royals are about to embark on their 1977 campaign. In real life, they were coming off their first AL West title with 90 wins in 1976, only to lose the ALCS to the Yankees in five games.

In this OOTP-SIM-world, the Royals are coming off an 88-74 season in which they finished third behind the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics. Dennis Leonard went down with a season-ending injury at the end of July, the offense sputtered, first-baseman John Mayberry had a terrible year, and the bullpen floundered in too many key situations.

And … I’ll admit it; I failed as manager. I left starters in for *one last out* too many times. I never settled on an everyday lineup. I had a hard time utilizing all the speed the 1976 Royals had. And every time I thought I had my bullpen figured out, it blew up in my face.

I felt I was at the controls of a powerful machine I couldn’t quite operate.
Fortunately for me — if not for the fans — the owner is a nice guy and wants to give me another shot. For all my failures, I did increase revenue and put butts in the seats in 1976 — but how hard could it have been? It’s not like people had the Internet, video games, or an abundance of superhero movies to go see.

The poor folks in OOTP SIM world don’t know they were supposed to win the AL West in 1976. They expected to compete — and my 88-win Royals accomplished that much. But now it’s 1977 and Kansas City fans are tired of being teased. The talent has always been here. Now it has matured, ripened not only by experience but bitter disappointment. Expectations have never been higher for this organization than they are today, April 7, 1977.

Opening Day!

The top 5 songs in the USA on Opening Day, 1977 are:
1. Dancing Queen — ABBA
2. Don’t Give Up On Us — David Soul
3. Don’t Leave Me This Way — Thelma Houston
4. Rich Girl — Daryl Hall & John Oates
5. Southern Nights — Glen Campbell

***********

During spring training, I traded reserve outfielder Joe Lahoud to Cleveland for 37 year-old first baseman Rico Carty. Now I have some right-handed pop to complement left-hitting John Mayberry. For now, I will keep Carty on the bench as a right-handed pinch hitter, but if Mayberry struggles, I can slide Carty in against left-handed starters.

I also sent down RHP Steve Busby, whose ratings took a shocking hit from 1976 to 1977. That leaves me with a 5-man bullpen of RHP Mark Littell (CL), LHP Steve Mingori, RHP Doug Bird, LHP Larry Gura and RHP Marty Pattin.

My rotation consists of RHP Dennis Leonard, LHP Paul Splittorff, RHP Jim Colborn, LHP Andy Hassler & RHP Greg Shanahan. I’ve never heard of Greg Shanahan, nor is there any record of such a person ever pitching for the Royals, but I could use the extra arm right now.

**********

ONE LAST NOTE: This thread is heavily inspired by so49as' Dick Howser Challenge. I like his succinct, diary-style format and will try to stick to that as I play each and every individual game on the schedule. So if you're checking this out, please also check out so49as' excellent thread(s) as well. He has taken on a much tougher challenge than I have. Though the 1985 Royals won the World Series, they're a difficult ship to navigate in OOTP. The 1977 Royals were one of the most talented teams of the entire decade. They had a solid, if unspectacular rotation, a decent bullpen and a first-class lineup chock-full nicely balanced between speed, power and gap-power hitters.

The challenge here is, as good as the 1977 Royals were, they're playing in a difficult American League where six teams won at least 90 games in real life. Two of those teams, the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, were in the Royals' own division. Minnesota led the AL West for much of the 1977 season, but faded late and finished with 88 victories.

The real-life 1977 Royals seized control of the AL West by winning 25 out of 26 games from mid-August to mid-September, including a 17-game winning streak.

Anything can happen in OOTP. So let's see what happens!

*****
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Old 05-04-2019, 02:56 PM   #2
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Game 1, Thursday April 7, 1977 ~

At Detroit

Royals 10, Tigers 6

John Mayberry smacked a 428-foot, 3-run homer in the top of the first inning and later added a 2-run double. Catcher Darrell Porter hit two solo homers. DH Tom Poquette went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

It wasn’t all good news. After missing half of my 1976 SIM replay with injury, starting pitcher Dennis Leonard left this game with forearm stiffness. He will miss two weeks.

***

Game 2, Saturday April 9, 1977 ~

At Detroit

Royals 6, Tigers 4 (17 innings)

The Royals blew two save opportunities in this one, which is why it took them 7 pitchers and 17 innings to call it a night.

Greg Shanahan, the guy who isn’t even supposed to be here, picked up his second save in as many games. He has pitched five scoreless innings and struck out four in two games. KC led 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth; couldn’t hold it.

KC led 4-2 in the 11th after a 2-run HR by Mayberry; couldn’t hold it.

The Royals finally loaded the bases and pushed two runs home in the top of the 17th.

George Brett went 5-for-9 in the game but didn’t drive in any runs. Mayberry already has 8 RBI, which is more than he had on June 1, 1976.

Paul Splittorff pitched well in his first start: 7 IP, 1 R, 7 H, 3 BB, 2 K.

Detroit 2B Tito Fuentes suffered a minor injury on the basepaths but is not expected to miss any time.

***
Game 3, Sunday April 10, 1977 ~

At Detroit

Royals 13, Tigers 6

Royals led 4-2 through five innings and then broke it open with nine runs over the 6th & 7th innings. Al Cowens homered. Freddie Patek went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and 3 runs. Jim Colborn, acquired in an offseason trade with Milwaukee, pitched 7 innings to log the win.

Now KC heads home for a Monday afternoon home opener against the defending American League champion New York Yankees, who are off to an 0-3 start after getting swept at home by the freaking Milwaukee Brewers.

Last edited by webrian; 05-04-2019 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 05-04-2019, 03:00 PM   #3
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***
Game 4, Monday April 11, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 6, Yankees 4

Amos Otis hit a two-out, walk-off 3-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lift Kansas City over the still-winless Yankees.

But again, there’s bad news. Starting LHP Andy Hassler threw 10 pitches and left the game with an apparently serious injury (diagnosis pending). With Dennis Leonard already on the 15-day DL and the staff already worn down after three games in Detroit (including a 17-inning win less than 48 hours before), it was a struggle just getting through this one.

Fortunately, Marty Pattin (3.2 IP), Steve Mingori (3.1 IP) and Mark Littell (2 IP) managed to keep the game close until Otis’ heroic blast.

But with two starting pitchers already on the shelf, the immediate future is uncertain. It’s a good thing we got a 4-0 start.

***
Game 5, Wednesday April 13, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Yankees 5, Royals 2

LHP Ron Guidry wasn’t dominant (8.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) but he got the job done for the Yankees, who were feeling the pressure from George Steinbrenner after their 0-4 start. Greg Shanahan started and took the loss for Kansas City. He allowed all 5 Yankee runs over six innings. Bucky Dent hit a 2-run HR in the fourth to give New York a 3-0 lead.

Al Cowens hit his second HR for the Royals.

***

OFF DAY — Thursday April 14, 1977 ~

We learned that LHP Andy Hassler will miss three months with elbow inflammation.

I decided we had to make a move. I traded right-handed catcher Craig Perkins to the Chicago Cubs in return for RHP Steve Renko, who had a solid start for the Cubs his last time out. He’s not an exceptional pitcher in any way (none of our starters are) but he can give us some innings and hopefully our bats will help him out.

Renko is 77-93 with a 3.93 ERA so far in his career.

We also sent reserve infielder David Cripe down to AAA Omaha and called up 19-year-old phenom Clint Hurdle, who can play catcher, third base, first base and left field. He will primarily back up Darrell Porter and George Brett.

Detroit is coming to Kansas City for a weekend series. We swept the Tigers in Detroit, so they’re probably hoping for a bit of payback.

***
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:53 PM   #4
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Game 6, Friday April 15, 1977, ~

At Kansas City

Tigers 5, Royals 2

WP: Jim Crawford (1-1); LP: Paul Splittorff (0-1); Sv: Steve Foucault (2)

Splittorff ran into sudden trouble with two outs in the top of the second inning, yielding 4 runs on 6 straight hits, including a 2-run triple by Tigers’ No. 9 hitter Mark Wagner. Splitt pitched well the rest of the game, until Wagner hit another RBI triple off him in the top of the ninth, again with 2 outs.

Darrell Porter hit his 3rd HR of the season for Kansas City.

***

Game 7, Saturday April 16, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Tigers 6, Royals 5

WP: Fernando Arroyo (1-0); LP: Mark Littell (1-1); Sv: Steve Foucault (3)

This one hurts. Larry Gura and Mark Littell blew a 1-run lead in the ninth after the team overcame an early 4-0 deficit to get in position to win.

Hal McRae hit his first homer of the season, a 2-run shot to LF in the bottom of the seventh to give KC a 5-4 lead. I pulled Gura after he allowed a leadoff double in the top of the ninth. But Littell made it worse, yielding a game-tying double to Jason Thompson and then an RBI single to Ben Ogilvie for a 6-5 Detroit lead.

Foucault pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his third save.

Jim Colborn started for KC and pitched 6.1 innings despite giving up four runs (2 earned) on six hits and an error in the first inning.

My Royals have now dropped three in a row after winning their first four games of the season. We will see if newly-acquired RHP Steve Renko can stop the skid on Sunday.

IN OTHER NEWS: Phillies CF’er Garry Maddox will miss 4 months with a broken kneecap. That’s a big setback for the defending NL East champs.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:56 PM   #5
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***
Game 8, Sunday April 17, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Tigers 1

WP: Steve Renko (1-0); LP: Dave Rozema (1-1)

Tom Poquette hit a bases-clearing triple in the fifth. Hal McRae hit a bases-clearing double in the sixth. And Steve Renko pitched 8 innings of 7-hit ball (1 BB, 3 K) to pick up his first win in a Royals uniform. All in all, a pleasant Sunday afternoon of baseball for the local fans.

AFTER 8 GAMES …

Record: 5-3 … tied for 1st place with Texas, with Oakland (6-4) and Minnesota (6-4) close behind.

Real life: 5-3 … 3rd place, 1 game behind Oakland and Chicago.

Next: A 3-game set at home with Minnesota.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Boston (5-3) leads the AL East … The New York Mets (6-3) sit atop the NL East … and the Los Angeles Dodgers (8-1) have a 2-game lead in the NL West. The defending World Champion Reds are 5-5 …. Cleveland reliever Jim Kern and Boston slugger Fred Lynn got into a fight, inciting a bench-clearing brawl at Fenway Park. Lynn was suspended 4 games and Kern got 8 games for the donnybrook.
ALSO: The expansion Toronto Blue Jays (4-6) have two of the AL’s best hitters at the moment. Doug Ault is hitting .325 with a league-leading 15 RBI and Otto Velez leads the league with a .461 average. Oakland’s Mitchell Page is the top overall hitter: .368, 4 HR, 13 RBI.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:02 PM   #6
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Game 9, Monday April 18, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Twins 6, Royals 4

WP: Dave Goltz (2-0); LP: Greg Shanahan (0-2); Sv: Tom Johnson (2)

The Twins (7-4) snapped a 4-game losing streak. Royals starter Greg Shanahan laid an egg in the first inning, giving up five runs on five hits. KC chipped away in the middle innings but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Mike Cubbage did the bulk of the damage for the Twins with a bases-clearing double in the top of the first.

Hal McRae went 3-for-5 with a double and his 2nd HR of the season.

***

Game 10, Tuesday April 19, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 13, Twins 12

WP: Paul Splittorff (1-1); LP: Geoff Zahn (1-1); Sv: Mark Littell (1)

It is no fun trying to beat these Twins.

The Royals got a huge game from John Mayberry, who hit two home runs his first two times at bat and finished the game 4-for-4. Al Cowens also slammed a pair of round-trippers and finished witih 5 RBIs. But even after building an 8-1 lead after two innings, KC nearly gave it all back.

Minnesota scored 4 runs off three KC relievers in the ninth inning. It wasn’t until Mark Littell got Butch Wynegar to ground out with the bases loaded that Royals fans could finally exhale. Lyman Bostock hit an INSIDE-THE-PARK 3-run homer for the Twins in the 6th inning. Overall, Minnesota drew seven walks and collected 16 hits.

***

Game 11, Wednesday April 20, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 10, Twins 9


WP: Doug Bird (2-0); LP: Ron Schueler (0-1)

Rico Carty smacked a pinch-hit 2-run single in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Royals to a comeback win that shouldn’t have been a comeback.

The Royals took a 7-4 lead into the top of the ninth inning, but the relentless Twins battered relievers Mark Littell and Doug Bird for 5 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. So instead of locking down the ‘W,’ the Royals trailed 9-7 when they came to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

The Twins, however, were out of rested relievers. Ron Schueler was the bottom of the barrel for them, and his arm was hamburger meat in the bottom of the ninth. The Royals quickly loaded the bases and scored 3 runs for the walk-off win.

KC pounded out 16 hits, including 3 doubles, 2 triples and a home run by George Brett.

The Royals will have a travel day on Thursday, then play a 4-game set at the expansion Seattle Mariners (5-10) over the weekend, including a doubleheader on Sunday.

Kansas City ace Dennis Leonard is due to come off the DL within the next couple of days.

***
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:07 PM   #7
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Game 12, Friday April 22, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Mariners 4, Royals 1

WP: John Montague (2-2); LP: Steve Renko (1-1); Sv: Enrique Romo (2)

Steve Renko didn’t pitch terribly, but Seattle’s Montague had total command and the Royals couldn’t string hits together against him. Bill Stein snapped a 1-1 tie with a 2-run blast in the bottom of the fourth.

Stein had many game-breaking hits against the Royals in my 1976 SIM as well, when he was still playing for the White Sox. Really starting to hate the guy.

***

Game 13, Saturday April 23, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Mariners 6, Royals 3

WP: Glenn Abbott (1-1); LP: Greg Shanahan (0-3); Sv: Bill Laxton (2)

Royals’ starter Greg Shanahan lost his third straight start, allowing 5 runs on 10 hits over just 4.2 innings. Bill Stein did more damage, going 2-for-4 with a double and a 2-out, 2-run single in a 4-run fifth inning for Seattle.
I don’t know what it is about the Seattle Kingdome that makes the Royals play so poorly. Got a doubleheader there on Sunday. Not looking forward to it.

Some good news: Dennis Leonard has come off the DL and could start one of Sunday’s two games. Shanahan is likely bound for the bullpen.

***

Game 14, Sunday April 24, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Royals 7, Mariners 1

WP: Paul Splittorff (2-1); LP: Gary Wheelock (1-2)

Amos Otis and Darrell Porter cracked back-to-back homers in the first inning as the Royals scored 5 runs and sent Seattle starter Gary Wheelock to the showers. Otis’ was a 3-run shot.

KC starter Paul Splittorff cruised from there. He threw a complete game, yielding just one run on 6 hits and 4 walks, with no strikeouts.

This game started at 10:05 a.m local time and was the first of a daytime doubleheader.

***

Game 15, Sunday April 24, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Mariners 5, Royals 3

WP: Vern Ruhle (1-2); LP: Dennis Leonard (0-1); Sv: Enrique Romo (3)

Dennis Leonard turned in a spotty, 5-inning start after his two-week stint on the DL. He gave up a 2-run homer to red-hot Dan T. Meyer in the first inning, then another 2-run moonshot to Jose freaking Baez in the fourth as the Mariners built a 5-0 lead.

Freddie Patek went 3-for-4 for KC, raising his average to .339.

Monday is a travel day. The Royals will be back in Kansas City on Tuesday to begin a 2-game set with Texas, which currently leads the AL West with a 10-5 record.

The Royals went 11-4 against Seattle in real life in 1977. We just lost 3 of 4 to them at the Kingdome. The problem with playing bad teams early in the season is, they don’t yet know how bad they are.

CURRENT RECORD: 8-7 (3rd place; 2 games behind Texas)

REAL LIFE: 9-6 (3rd place; 0.5 games behind Oakland)

***
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Old 05-06-2019, 04:10 PM   #8
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Game 16, Tuesday April 26, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Rangers 3

WP: Jim Colborn (2-0); LP: Nelson Briles (0-3); Sv: Mark Littell (2)

The Royals had to survive yet another terrifying ninth inning to put this in the ‘W’ column. Mark Littell allowed a run on 2 hits and 2 walks, but struck out backup catcher Rick Stelmaszek with the bases loaded to close the door.

Amos Otis belted a 2-run homer (his 3rd) in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie. Jim Colborn pitched seven strong innings, allowing 2 runs on just 3 hits. He walked 4, struck out 3.

This game was played in unseasonably chilly conditions: 42 degrees at first pitch. Brrrr!

The Rangers won the AL East in my 1976 SIM. The real-life team won 94 games in 1977. This is a Texas team to take seriously.

***

Game 17, Wednesday April 27, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Rangers 6, Royals 3 (10 innings)

WP: Adrian Devine (3-0); LP: Larry Gura (0-1)

KC starter Steve Renko gave up 3 runs in a rough first inning but stuck around into the sixth. The Royals managed to tie the game and send it to extra innings, but …. Yeah, that bullpen.

Freddie Patek hit his first HR of the season, so there’s that.

Next, KC gets to host the expansion Toronto Blue Jays, who are 8-12 at the moment.

The Royals are 1-3 against expansion teams (Seattle) so far.

***
Game 18, Friday April 29, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Blue Jays 5, Royals 3

WP: Jesse Jefferson (1-3); LP: Paul Splittorff (2-2); Sv: Pete Vuckovich (1)

Toronto’s Jefferson came into this game 0-3 and with an ERA over 15.50. The Royals scored 3 runs off him in the first inning, and then the bats went dead quiet.

The Jays got within 3-2 on a Pedro Garcia homer in the third inning, then took the lead with a 3-run seventh. Sam Ewing roped a bases-loaded double into the RF corner for the most-damaging blow.

Come on out to the ballpark tomorrow and get a good seat. Toronto’s Jerry Garvin (6.48 ERA) will pitch against KC’s Greg Shanahan (6.65). I know I’m excited.

***
Game 19, Saturday April 30, 1977

At Kansas City

Royals 9, Blue Jays 7

WP: Greg Shanahan (1-3); LP: Jeff Garvin (1-2)

Fans who came to see bad pitching got their money’s worth. The Royals blasted four home runs. Darrell Porter & John Mayberry both hit their 5th round-trippers of the season. Freddie Patek hit his second in three days. George Brett uncorked his third, a 448-foot shot into the fountain in right centerfield.

Shanahan allowed 3 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks over 5.1 innings, then Doug Bird came in and allowed just 1 hit over 1.2 innings. But Mark Littell, now sporting an ERA of 12.46, yielded 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks over the last two innings, turning what had been a 9-3 Kansas City cruise into another ninth-inning nail-biter.

***
Game 20, Sunday May 1, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 9, Blue Jays 7

WP: Steve Mingori (1-0); LP: Jeff Byrd (1-2); Sv: Marty Pattin (1)

Tom Poquette, one of five Royals with two hits in this game, raised his average to .379 with a double and a triple. The Blue Jays piled up 14 hits, including 5 doubles, but their expansion-team pitching staff was just a tad worse than Kansas City’s.

It’s early so there’s no reason for panic. But it’s hard to see this Royals team gaining much traction beyond a .500 record unless the bullpen shapes up. The rotation has dealt with injury and with bringing in a couple of new starters, which makes its struggles understandable. But the pen isn’t helping. Many times this team wins in spite of its bullpen and not because of it.

CURRENT RECORD: 11-9 (2nd place, 2 games behind Texas)

REAL LIFE: 12-8 (2nd place, 0.5 games behind Minnesota)

AROUND THE LEAGUE:
The Baltimore Orioles (13-8) now lead the AL East by 1 game over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Yankees (11-11) have lost four straight and are sitting in fourth place behind Boston (11-10) …. The Rangers lead the AL West and have the best record in the AL at 13-7.

In the NL East, the Pittsburgh Pirates (13-6) have won 5 in a row and lead the St. Louis Cardinals by 2.5 games. The Montreal Expos had a miserable April, and are in last place with a 3-15 record … In the NL West, the defending champion Cincinnati Reds (13-8) and rising Los Angeles Dodgers (13-8) are in a tie for first place, with San Francisco and San Diego each 1.5 games behind.

Don Money of the Milwaukee Brewers leads the AL in batting (.423) and RBIs (25). Bobby Bonds of the California Angels leads in HRs with 9.

Larry Biitner of the Chicago Cubs leads the NL in batting (.417) while Cincinnati’s George Foster and Philadelphia’s Greg Luzinski share the HR lead with 6 apiece. Willie Montanez of the Atlanta Braves leads the NL in RBIs with 19 — but the Braves aren’t benefitting much; they are 5-16 and dead last in the NL West.

The Top 5 songs in the USA on May 1, 1977 are:

1. Southern Nights — Glen Campbell
2. Hotel California — The Eagles
3. Don’t Leave Me This Way — Thelma Houston
4. When I Need You — Leo Sayer
5. I’ve Got Love On My Mind — Natalie Cole
================================================
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:28 AM   #9
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Game 21, Monday May 2, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 8, White Sox 7

WP: Dave Bird (3-0); LP: Lerrin LaGrow (1-3); Sv: Larry Gura (1)

What a wild finish.

With a 4-run lead heading to the ninth inning, I figured I’d bring in Mark Littell to pitch in a low-leverage situation. For his confidence, you know. He quickly turned it into a high-leverage situation.

Littell got one batter out while allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. So somebody had to go get Larry Gura out of the showers and tell him he was needed on the mound.

Finally, with the bases loaded, one out and KC clinging to a 1-run lead, Gura got Lamar Johnson to fly out deep to the leftfield corner. It should have been an easy sac fly to tie the game.

But somehow, Hal McRae managed to throw out Ralph Garr at home to end the game on an improbable fly-out/throw-out double play. Maybe Garr got a late start because he thought Johnson’s fly ball would get over the wall for a HR? It sure looked like it might.

Whew.

This loss dropped the White Sox to 8-13. But this is a dangerous team. In real life, these Sox won 90 games.

***

Game 22, Tuesday May 3, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

White Sox 4, Royals 3

WP: Ken Kravec (2-0); LP: Dennis Leonard (0-2)

Kravec pitched a complete game for the Pale Hose. He gave up 3 runs on 8 hits, walked 1 and struck out 7 to out-duel Leonard, who struck out 9 over eight innings, then left the game with a strained back. I guess 125 pitches were too much?

Leonard had a great game going until the top of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two out, Leonard walked in two runs to give the Sox a 4-3 lead. The Royals didn’t have a late rally in them this time.

Chet Lemon hit a 2-run homer for the Sox in the top of the 1st inning. Amos Otis hit a solo shot (his 5th) in the third, then added a 2-run double in the fourth to supply all 3 KC runs.

***

Game 23, Wednesday May 4, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, White Sox 0

WP: Paul Splittorff (3-2); LP: Steve Stone (2-2)

Splittorff pitched a 5-hit complete-game shutout. He walked 1, struck out 5 and gave the beleaguered pitching corps a needed boost.

The Royals had 11 hits, all of them singles. Tom Poquette’s bases-loaded, 2-run single in the bottom of the second inning was all KC really needed.

After this game, reserve infielder Cookie Rojas, age 38, announced he will retire from baseball at the end of the season. I’m sure Splittorff appreciated Rojas upstaging his CG shutout glory with this announcement.

In other news, Detroit starter Dave Rozema will miss the rest of the 1977 season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).

***

Game 24, Thursday May 5, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 6, White Sox 2

WP: Greg Shanahan (2-3); LP: Wilbur Wood (2-3)

Seven strong innings from Shanahan and a 4-RBI performance from Al Cowens told the story in this one. Shanahan won his 2nd straight start. Cowens hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the first and later added an RBI double. He now leads KC with 6 HRs and is tied for the AL lead with 26 RBIs. He’s batting .324 so far this season.

But Freddie Patek earned POG honors, going 3-for-4 with a triple, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

Now, having taken 3 of 4 from the White Sox (9-15) at home, the Royals (14-10) will embark on a short trip to Texas for a 3-game series with the 1st-place Rangers (14-8).

IN OTHER NEWS: The San Francisco Giants have won 8 in a row to leapfrog the Dodgers and pull into a first-place tie with the Reds in the NL West …. Meanwhile, the poor, poor pitiful Expos have fallen to 3-18 with their fourth straight loss and their ninth in 10 games.
***
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:34 AM   #10
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Game 25, Friday May 6, 1977 ~

At Arlington

Rangers 6, Royals 5

WP: Gaylord Perry (1-1); LP: Jim Colborn (2-1); Sv: Adrian Devine (4)

A 3-run homer by Amos Otis (his 6th) in the second inning helped KC take an early 4-0 lead, but the Rangers calmly chipped away with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings and then two more in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead.

Texas got its lead runner on base for 6 straight innings against Colborn, including leadoff triples by Billy Sample in the third and Mike Hargrove in the fourth. The Rangers added their crucial sixth run in the eighth off reliever Steve Mingori, and the insurance came in handy when the Royals managed to push a run across in the top of the ninth.

The Royals hit Perry hard a few times, but spent most of the game grounding out (12 times) or popping out (8) against him.

***

Game 26, Saturday May 7, 1977 ~

At Arlington

Rangers 13, Royals 12 (12 innings)

WP: Mike Griffin (1-0); LP: Doug Bird (3-1)

A wild night in Texas results in a frustrating loss for the Royals.

For the second time in two nights, Kansas City got out to a 4-0 lead, but the Rangers cut it to 4-2, then blew the game open with a 9-run fifth inning. With Dennis Leonard still hurt and potentially no starter rested and available for Sunday’s game, I decided to let emergency starter Marty Pattin mop up as many garbage innings as he could.

To my amazement, the Royals rallied all the way back. Darrell Porter launched a 3-run homer in the eighth. John Mayberry crushed a two-out, 3-run homer in the top of the ninth to tie the game 12-12. So all of a sudden, I’m playing for the win.

But that meant using my only reliable bullpen arm, Doug Bird, in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. The Royals suddenly stopped hitting, even though the Rangers were down to a washed-up Paul Lindblad pitching by that point. Bert Campaneris ended it with a two-out, RBI single in the 12th.

Making matters worse, the Royals lost RF Al Cowens for a week when he got hit on the foot by a pitch in the first inning.

***

Game 27, Sunday May 8, 1977 ~

At Arlington

Rangers 8, Royals 3

WP: Doyle Alexander (3-1); LP: Larry Gura (0-2)

The Royals couldn’t put up much of a fight in this one.

With Dennis Leonard ailing and our bullpen more or less depleted, we called up 23 year-old RHP Rich Gale to see if the young whippersnapper could maybe have some dumb luck against the Rangers.

He went down with back spasms after retiring 2 batters in the first inning.

It was the fourth time this season (in just 27 games!) we’ve had a starting pitcher leave **in the first inning** due to injury. I think it’s time to fire the trainer, or perhaps the pitching coach.

With Gale unable to pitch, we were defenseless. We kept it to a 1-1 tie through five innings, but then the pitching ran out and the Rangers scored 7 unanswered runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

We need a day off but we don’t get one. We’re back at home on Monday to start a 2-game set against California.

***

Last edited by webrian; 07-05-2019 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:39 AM   #11
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Game 28, Monday May 9, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Angels 7, Royals 2

WP: Frank Tanana (2-0); LP: Dennis Leonard (0-3)

Dennis Leonard still had one day to go to be totally free of back spasms, but he was literally the only rested pitcher I had, so he started.

Leonard pitched five lights-out innings, then it all went to hell in the sixth. I pulled Leonard with a runner in and two more on base. Doug Bird came in, immediately walked a batter, then gave up a grand slam to Tony Solaita, a former Royal. As Elvis would say, "thankyouverymuch ..."

Solaita also jacked a solo homer in the ninth to make it 7-0.

Frank Tanana lowered his ERA to 2.70, holding KC to only 4 measly hits.

The losing streak is now at 4 games and we’ve slipped back to .500. With Cowens still hobbled and our pitching in tatters, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

***

Game 29, Tuesday May 10, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Angels 10, Royals 7 (13 innings)

WP: Tom Murphy (2-0); LP: Steve Mingori (1-1); Sv: Dick Drago (9)

The Royals got down by 7 runs early — this time because of a second-inning grand slam by 21 year-old Rance Mulliniks, of all people — and looked like they were headed to a ho-hum blowout loss.

That would have at least been easier on the pitching staff.

But for the second time in four days, KC rallied to tie the game 7-7 and send it to extras. Relievers Marty Pattin, Larry Gura and an ailing (back spasms) Rich Gale combined to string together 10 consecutive scoreless innings in spite of their weary arms.

But the hitting died down considerably after the 5-run rally in the seventh to even the score. The Royals did load the bases with one out in the bottom of the 11th, but then John Mayberry and Rico Carty both struck out. The Angels put together a walk and four consecutive singles off Steve Mingori in the top of the 13th to plate 3 runs and send KC to its fifth consecutive loss.

We get one day off to lick our wounds before division-leading Texas swoops in for another piece of us.

The boys are playing with some grit, but just not getting the breaks or timely hits.

Yet.

***
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:24 PM   #12
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Game 30, Thursday May 12, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 9, Rangers 7

WP: Jim Colborn (3-1); LP: Mike Griffin (1-1)

Frank White ripped a bases-clearing double into the gap in the bottom of the seventh to snap a 6-6 tie — and the Royals’ 5-game losing streak.

KC starter Jim Colborn allowed 11 hits — including homers by Roy Howell & Toby Harrah — but we needed guts more than glory on this night. Colborn didn’t pitch a masterpiece, but he lasted all nine innings so the bullpen could recharge. We’ll take it.

Meanwhile, home runs by George Brett (his 5th) and Rico Carty (his 3rd) helped KC chase away Texas starter Nelson Briles by the end of the fourth inning.

***

Game 31, Friday May 13, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 5, Rangers 3

WP: Doug Bird (4-1); LP: Doyle Alexander (3-2)

An RBI triple by Tom Poquette broke a 3-3 deadlock in the bottom of the eighth.

LHP Paul Splittorff turned in a quality start: 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K — and had a 3-2 lead when he turned things over to Doug Bird in the eighth. Texas put its first two batters on base against Bird, scored a run and threatened to make it a big inning.

But then Amos Otis ran down a deep fly ball in the LF-CF gap and SOMEHOW threw out Mike Hargrove trying to score from third on the fly ball. Otis also made a running, diving catch in the RF-CF gap in the fifth inning.

It sure would feel nice to sweep the division-leading Rangers. But they have ace Bert Blyleven (3-0, 4.47 ERA) going on Saturday and we’ve got, well, Steve Renko (1-1, 4.72).

Blyleven is always tough on Kansas City.

***
Game 32, Saturday May 14, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 6, Rangers 2

WP: Steve Renko (2-1); LP: Bert Blyleven (3-1)

Rico Carty hit his 2nd homer in three games against the Rangers, a team he used to play for, as Kansas City built a 3-0 lead. A 2-run blast by Texas’ Toby Harrah in the top of the sixth cut the lead to 3-2, and the Rangers put two men on base in both the seventh and eighth innings, but the Royals turned inning-ending double plays in both.

Darrell Porter slammed his 7th HR of the season in the bottom of the eighth to put a capper on it. Porter is now hitting .337 for the season.

KC will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon — and anything could happen. Texas will start left-handed weirdo Roger Moret (0-2, 5.12) and KC will counter with mystery man Greg Shanahan (2-3, 7.20).

Fortunately, if the bullpen is needed, at least it’s rested.

***
Game 33, Sunday May 15, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Rangers 3

WP: Marty Pattin (2-0); LP: Adrian Devine (5-2); Sv: Larry Gura (2)

SWEEP!

Darrell Porter hit a 2-run homer (his 8th) and a tie-breaking RBI double to lead the Royals back from an early 3-0 deficit.

Greg Shanahan started for KC and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) over six innings. The Royals trailed 3-0 until George Brett hit a solo shot (6th) followed by Porter’s 2-run blast four batters later.

Marty Pattin allowed just one hit over the seventh and eighth innings to get the win.

The sweep is huge. We came into this 4-game series under .500, in fifth place, with one of our top hitters (Al Cowens) shelved and our bullpen worn to the nub. We leave it just 1.5 games out of first — and with a nice stretch coming up; five of the next 11 days are off days, which will allow us to stay well-rested until the end of the month.

CURRENT RECORD: 18-15 (4th place, 1.5 games behind Texas)
REAL LIFE RECORD: 17-16 (4th place, 5 games behind Minnesota)

AROUND THE LEAGUE:
The Baltimore Orioles (20-11) lead the AL East by 2 games over Milwaukee with the defending AL champ New York Yankees 3 games back …. The Texas Rangers (19-13) have lost 5 in a row but lead the AL West by a half game over surging Minnesota, with the **expansion** Seattle Mariners (21-17) only a game out of first …. The Pittsburgh Pirates (19-13) continue to lead the NL East with the surprising Chicago Cubs 2 games back … The two-time defending world champion Cincinnati Reds (23-10) have won 7 straight and now lead the NL West by 3.5 games over the LA Dodgers.
In the AL West, five teams are within 2 games of first place. The talented, underachieving Chicago White Sox (13-20) are languishing in last place. They could have a hot streak in them anytime.

The Orioles are leading the AL East because of their pitching. Three of their starters lead the league in ERA. Mike Flanagan (5-0, 0.81), Jim Palmer (5-0, 1.81) and Dennis Martinez (3-0, 2.03) are setting the pace, even with California’s Nolan Ryan (4-3, 4.53 ERA) posting a league-leading 57 strikeouts.

California closer Dick Drago leads all of baseball with 10 saves.

Milwaukee’s Don Money leads the AL in batting (.386) and batter WAR (2.7) while Minnesota’s Larry Hisle leads in RBI (39) with teammate Rod Carew third in the league with 32 RBI and a .376 average.

Hisle, along with Seattle’s Dan T. Meyer and New York’s Graig Nettles, all lead the AL in homers with 10 apiece.

Over in the National League, the Cubs’ Larry Biitner mysteriously continues to lead in batting (.376) … but Cincy’s George Foster is getting the headlines. He’s batting .304 and leading the NL with 11 HRs and 32 RBIs. Philadelphia’s Greg Luzinski and San Francisco’s Willie McCovey each have 11 HRs as well.

Pitching excellence defines the NL so far. LA’s Doug Rau is 7-0 with a league-leading 1.29 ERA and San Diego’s Randy Jones is right behind him at 6-1 with a 1.49 ERA. But it’s the Mets’ Tom Seaver (5-3, 2.26 ERA) and Houston’s J.R. Richard (6-1, 1.59 ERA) who are capturing everyone’s attention, leading all of baseball in strikeouts; Seaver with 65 and Richard with 63.

The Royals have a weird schedule coming up. We get Monday and Tuesday (May 16 & 17) OFF, then we’ll jog up to Chicago for a 2-game set before returning home for a weekend series against the Cleveland Indians (15-18), after which we will have another Monday and Tuesday OFF before a Wednesday DOUBLEHEADER at Baltimore, another OFF day, and then a weekend series at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
We will have RF Al Cowens back in the lineup at Chicago. That’ll be a boost. So far this season, Cowens is batting .321 with 6 HRs and 26 RBI.
George Brett, by comparison, is hitting .322 with 6 HR and 21 RBI despite not missing any time, so that’s how big Cowens is for this team. He also had a tremendous 1977 in real life.

So far, the Royals lead the American League in HOME RUNS (44) and team Batter WAR (9.1) — two trends I do not expect will last much longer.

***
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:33 PM   #13
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Game 34, Wednesday May 18, 1977 ~

At Chicago

White Sox 14, Royals 1

WP: Francisco Berrios (3-3); LP: Paul Splittorff (3-3)

I had two fears about this game. One, that the two days off would blunt the momentum the Royals had picked up during a 4-game sweep of Texas and two, that the so-far underachieving White Sox were about to wake up like a dormant volcano.

This game was a perfect storm of both scenarios.

LHP Paul Splittorff brought nothing to the mound and got his everloving butt kicked all over Comiskey Park. The Sox put up crooked numbers in each of the first four innings and never looked back. Splittorff needed 74 pitches to record 7 outs. His line: 2.1 IP, 7 R, 7 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 0 K. Marty Pattin came on in relief and gave up two homers.

Late in the game I brought in beleagured reliever Mark Littell to try and lower his 12.44 ERA in garbage time. You know, try to get the tiniest silver lining from the debacle. In one inning, Littell allowed 4 runs (all earned) on 4 hits and 1 walk. He gave up two homers — including a 440-foot shot to somebody named Larry Foster, whose contact rating (on the 1-100 scale) is a robust 13 and whose POW rating is 58.

On the 1-20 scale I prefer, Foster’s CON rating is 2. How bad is Littell going if even that bat couldn’t miss him?

***

Game 35, Thursday May 19, 1977 ~

At Chicago

Royals 7, White Sox 2

WP: Jim Colborn (4-1); LP: Ken Brett (1-6)

LHP Ken Brett brought nothing to the mound and got his everloving butt kicked all over Comiskey Park. He did get his younger brother George Brett out twice, though.

The Royals jumped all over Ken Brett with 4 runs on 6 hits in the first inning. Jim Colborn flirted with a complete-game shutout, but ended up settling for just the CG after the Sox scratched a pair of meaningless runs across the plate in the ninth.

We went 1-1 in Chicago. I’ll take it, but that 14-1 loss still stings.

***

Game 36, Friday May 20, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Indians 12, Royals 2

WP: Jim Bibby (6-3); LP: Steve Renko (2-2)

The Cleveland Indians teams of the late 70s weren’t great, or even very good, but they’ve got a lineup packed with pesky contact hitters. If a pitcher doesn’t have his stuff, these Indians can get to it like a school of killer piranha, and that’s what happened here.

The Tribe also had their best pitcher on the mound. Jim Bibby limited KC to just 4 measly hits while the Indians banged out 15 hits and drew 7 walks.

***

Game 37, Saturday May 21, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 6, Indians 1

WP: Dennis Leonard (1-3); LP: Rick Waits (3-4)

Hal McRae came out of a mini slump with a 2-for-4 performance, including a bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the third to give KC a 3-0 lead.

Dennis Leonard, who won 20 games in real life in 1977, gets his first 1977-SIM win in the third week of May. Hard luck and two stints on the DL have held Leonard back, but he needs to emerge as the ace so the rest of the rotation will fall in line. Leonard allowed only 4 hits over eight innings.

Sunday afternoon’s rubber game will pit Paul Splittorff against former teammate, former Royals ace Al Fitzmorris.

***

Game 38, Sunday May 22, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Indians 5, Royals 4

WP: Al Fitzmorris (3-3); LP: Larry Gura (0-3); Sv: Jim Kern (3)

Relief pitcher Larry Gura couldn’t get the third out in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs, nobody on, and the game tied 1-1, Gura yielded 2 hits, 2 walks and 4 runs.

The Royals rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh to close within 5-4, but then the Indians brought in fireballing closer Jim Kern and that was that.

One bright spot: Mark Littell relieved Gura in the top of the seventh and looked like his old self for the rest of the game. He did allow 2 hits, but with 0 runs, 0 walks and 4 strikeouts, he shaved his ERA down to 10.06. It’s nice to have him back.

Then again, it could have been a cruel tease. We will see.

The Royals get another two days off, and then will play the Orioles in a weird Wednesday doubleheader in Baltimore. We’ll get both of the horns against the O’s — they’ll start Jim Palmer (5-2, 1.69) in the first game and Mike Flanagan (6-0, 0.78) in the second. Yikes.

CURRENT RECORD: 20-18 (4th place, 4.5 games behind Texas)
REAL LIFE RECORD: 18-20 (5th place, 6.5 games behind Minnesota)
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Old 05-10-2019, 11:21 PM   #14
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Game 39, Wednesday May 25, 1977 ~

At Baltimore

Royals 4, Orioles 1

WP: Jim Colborn (5-1); LP: Jim Palmer (5-3)

The Orioles have lost 8 of their last 10 games, so the Royals might be catching the Birds at the right time.

KC jumped on Palmer for 3 first-inning runs and Jim Colborn locked it down from there. RHP Colborn turned in his third straight complete game and second in a row in which he allowed 2 runs or fewer. Maybe he’s the ace of our staff right now.

Offensively, Freddie Patek went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and runs scored.

Otherwise, it was kind of a ho-hum game, but a WIN, so we’ll take it.

***

Game 40, Wednesday May 25, 1977 ~

At Baltimore

Royals 9, Orioles 3

WP: Steve Renko (3-2); LP: Mike Parrott (0-4)

Imagine you’re a single dad and Orioles fan living in Baltimore in 1977. You got your Jim Palmer-brand cologne on. Your hair is feathered and sprayed firm as a batting helmet. Today was your kids’ last day of school before summer break, and since you’re probably gonna be late with this month’s child support, you offer to pick the kids up from school and drive them directly to Memorial Stadium for a sweet twinbill against the Kansas City Royals.

The announced pitchers for the doubleheader — Jim Palmer & Mike Flanagan — are among the league leaders in wins and ERA. Hey, they’re local heroes. The kids are stoked. You’re on coke. It’s a sun-splashed, windows-down, radio-up kind of day, and you’re certain nothing can dampen this groove.

Wrong.

First, the Royals get the jump on Palmer and cruise to a 4-1 win in a game so boring that you’ve already had to scold the kids twice for not staying in their seats. Then they announce that somebody named Mike Parrott will start the nightcap instead of Flanagan and his sparkling 0.78 ERA. No reason given. If you’re not already feeling gyped, Parrott gets rocked for 4 runs in the first inning. By the third, your kids are cranky and the O’s are down 9-2 after KC’s Darrell Porter crushes his second 3-run homer of the game.

You tell the kids there’s rain coming and leave sometime in the fifth inning. In the car, they ask why you’re always sniffing so much. Daddy’s got a summer cold, you tell them. As you’re pulling up to your old place (it’s HER place now), you see somebody’s pickup truck in your (her) driveway, and most of the lights are off. Looks like the ex is playing a doubleheader of her own tonight, and you’re wondering if Mr. Pickup Truck is rounding third or if he’s stranded on second base.

You tell yourself to be mature about this, but you’ve got as much control as Mike Parrott had in that first inning. Your ex comes to the door in her robe, her face smelling of makeup and alcohol. You present the kids to her and tell her you didn’t know the whorehouse was gonna be open tonight. Then things escalate. Mr. Pickup comes stumbling up behind her wearing only his jeans, looking like a roadie for an Ozark Mountain Daredevils cover band. At some point the yelling gets intense. The kids are crying. The neighbors are coming out onto their lawns to watch it all. You don’t even know what you’re saying anymore. Nobody does. Mr. Pickup keeps asking why y’all can’t just roll a joint and talk about things like mature adults, but nobody’s listening to him, or to reason. It’s a full moon tonight.

We will now pull ourselves away from this slow-motion disaster and rejoin the 1977 Royals season in progress.

***

Game 41, Friday May 27, 1977 ~

At Boston

Royals 8, Red Sox 3 (11 innings)

WP: Doug Bird (5-1); LP: Bill Lee (0-1)

It was a shame starter Paul Splittorff couldn’t get the win. I probably left him in too long. The Royals had a 3-2 lead through seven and a half innings. I left Splitt in to pitch the eighth and the Sox tied it 3-3 with a 2-out RBI single off him.

Al Cowens knocked in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the top of the eleventh. Then he was immediately upstaged when John Mayberry followed with a grand slam around the Pesky Pole in right field.

Bird allowed just 2 hits over three innings to earn the win. He’s been the team’s most reliable man out of the pen, so far.

The Red Sox have now lost 7 games in a row.

***

Game 42, Saturday May 28, 1977 ~

At Boston

Royals 9, Red Sox 5

WP: Dennis Leonard (2-3); LP: Rick Wise (1-5)

The Royals handed the Red Sox their eighth consecutive loss. Or you could say the BoSox handed it to themselves, committing two fielding errors in a 5-run seventh inning that allowed KC to turn a 2-2 tie into a 7-2 lead.

Dennis Leonard earned his second straight win, a good sign he’s finally healthy and turning things around. Leonard allowed just 2 runs on 6 hits over eight innings, but Greg Shanahan allowed 3 runs (two homers) in the ninth without recording a single out. The good news is Mark Littell came in and got three quick outs, lowering his ERA to 8.55 after his third straight quality appearance.

Al Cowens went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and 3 RBIs. Tom Poquette went 2-for-5 and hit his 6th triple of the season.

***

Game 43, Sunday May 29, 1977 ~

At Boston

Royals 8, Red Sox 4

WP: Jim Colborn (6-1); LP: Luis Tiant (3-4)

Make it five straight wins for the Royals and now nine consecutive losses for the Red Sox.

Boston put up a fight this time. The lead changed hands three times in the middle innings before Kansas City took control with 5 unanswered runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Amos Otis hit a towering home run over the Green Monster and out of the stadium to tie the score 4-4 in the top of the sixth. John Mayberry blasted his 10th homer, a line drive into the RF stands, in the seventh to chase away Tiant. Mayberry had 3 RBI in the game.

Also, budding young star George Brett broke out of a minor slump with a 3-for-5 effort, but all three hits were singles.

Speaking of budding young stars, an 18-year-old kid named Wade Boggs batted leadoff for Boston in this game. He went 1-for-5 with a double, 2 RBIs and a run scored.

Relievers Steve Mingori, Doug Bird and finally Greg Shanahan held the BoSox hitless over the final three innings to lock down the sixth win for Colborn, who was shaky over his six innings of work: 6 hits, 4 walks, 5 Ks and 4 earned runs allowed.

Now it’s on to Toronto (15-31) for two games in three days before returning to Kansas City for a 6-game homestand, including another doubleheader against Baltimore.

CURRENT RECORD: 25-18 (3rd place, 3.5 games behind Texas)
REAL-LIFE RECORD: 20-23 (6th place, 7.5 games behind Minnesota)

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The New York Yankees (29-18) have surged into first place in the AL East, 2 games ahead of Milwaukee (28-21) while Baltimore (2-8) and Boston (1-9) have slumped badly over their past 10 games …. The Texas Rangers continue to hold sway in the AL West with the best record in baseball at 28-14. They lead Minnesota (27-17) by two games. The last-place White Sox continue to be a disappointment at 18-25 ….

Over in the National League, the surprising Chicago Cubs (26-18) continue to lead the NL East by one game over the equally surprising St. Louis Cardinals. Defending division champs Pittsburgh (24-19) are third and Philadelphia is a disappointment so far at 19-24 …. In the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers (29-18) have surged into first place, 1.5 games over the slumping Reds, who have lost 5 in a row. The Atlanta Braves are the worst team in MLB right now at 13-34.

HITTING:
The Cubs’ Larry Biitner continues to lead all of baseball in batting with a .384 average, but a couple of Cardinals are hot on his trail; Ted Simmons (.366) and Bake McBride (.363) … Philly’s Greg Luzinski and San Francisco’s Willie McCovey lead all of baseball in home runs with 15 apiece … but Ken Reitz of St. Louis leads the NL in RBIs with 38, one more than McCovey’s 37 … Bake McBride leads the NL in Batter WAR with 2.8.

Baltimore switch hitter Ken Singleton leads the AL in batting with a .360 average, followed by Minnesota’s Lymon Bostok (.351) and Boston’s Jim Rice (.348) … California’s Bobby Bonds, Seattle’s Dan T. Meyer and Milwaukee’s Don Money each have 12 home runs to lead the AL (but KC’s Darrell Porter, with 11, is fourth) … Minnesota’s Larry Hisle leads the AL in RBIs with 44, but Rice (43) and Money (42) are not far behind …

PITCHING:
The New York Mets are still rocking the best 1-2 pitching tandem in baseball with Tom Seaver (5-5, 2.35 ERA & a league-leading 86 Ks) and Jerry Koosman (8-1, 2.05 ERA), but San Diego’s Randy Jones is setting the pace with an 8-2 record and a 1.79 ERA … Houston’s J.R. Richard is 7-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 84 Ks in 84 IP.

In the American League, Baltimore’s Mike Flanagan has a 6-1 record and leads the league with a tiny 1.05 ERA after two months. Yankees’ left-handed fireballer Ron Guidry is 6-3 with a 1.81 ERA. Cleveland’s Jim Bibby leads the AL in wins with a 7-3 record and a 2.23 ERA. Nolan Ryan is 6-3 with a 4.13 ERA but leads the AL with 90 strikeouts.

The Top 5 Songs in the USA on Memorial Day, 1977:

1. Sir Duke — Stevie Wonder
2. When I Need You — Leo Sayer
3. I’m Your Boogie Man/Wrap Your Arms Around Me — KC & the Sunshine Band
4. Dreams — Fleetwood Mac
5. Got To Give It Up — Marvin Gaye

****
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Old 05-11-2019, 01:47 PM   #15
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My rotation consists of RHP Dennis Leonard, LHP Paul Splittorff, RHP Jim Colborn, LHP Andy Hassler & RHP Greg Shanahan. I’ve never heard of Greg Shanahan, nor is there any record of such a person ever pitching for the Royals, but I could use the extra arm right now.
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Re: Greg Shanahan, he played in the Kansas City minor league system in 1977 going 11-11 2.54 for the Omaha Royals.

A former 1970 33rd round pick of the Dodgers he pitched 22 2/3 innings over two seasons (1973 and 1974) for LA before bouncing around the minors eventually quitting baseball after that 77 season with Omaha
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Old 05-11-2019, 03:01 PM   #16
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Re: Greg Shanahan, he played in the Kansas City minor league system in 1977 going 11-11 2.54 for the Omaha Royals.

A former 1970 33rd round pick of the Dodgers he pitched 22 2/3 innings over two seasons (1973 and 1974) for LA before bouncing around the minors eventually quitting baseball after that 77 season with Omaha
That is valuable information!

I should not still be astounded at how deep OOTP baseball can get, but in this case I am. I have SIMmed historical replays that filled in fictional players alongside obscure guys who amounted to a cup of coffee in the bigs. I didn't know which one was Shanahan (never googled him), but it's good to know he was part of the organization in 1977.
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Old 05-11-2019, 03:16 PM   #17
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Game 44, Monday May 30, 1977 ~

At Toronto

Royals 8, Blue Jays 6

WP: Steve Renko (4-2, 4.63); LP: Jerry Garvin (1-5, 5.35); Sv: Doug Bird (1, 2.00)

The Royals had an 8-0 lead after five and a half innings but had to stave off a furious late rally by the sinking Jays to win their sixth straight game.

KC got home runs by John Mayberry (11th), George Brett (7th) and Frank White (1st), whose 3-run blast in the fourth inning turned a 3-0 lead to 6-0. Brett climbed further out of his slump, going 3-for-4 with that homer, a double and 3 RBIs.

Starter Steve Renko cruised through five innings, then got wild in the sixth. He hit Toronto’s Doug Ault with a pitch and injured him for at least the foreseeable future (diagnosis pending). This is terrible for the Jays because Ault was leading them with 38 RBI.

The injury bug then turned around and stung the Royals. Shortstop and leadoff hitter Freddie Patek suffered an injury sliding into the second base in the eighth inning. His diagnosis is also pending.

***

Game 45, Wednesday June 1, 1977 ~

At Toronto

Blue Jays 9, Royals 7 (13 innings)

WP: Jeff Byrd (3-3, 7.98); LP: Rich Gale (0-1, 5.52 ERA)

The Royals had this game won twice and still lost. There went the 6-game winning streak.

George Brett hit a tie-breaking 2-run home run in the top of the 13th inning to give Kansas City a 7-5 lead. But Steve Bowling hit a 2-out grand slam off Rich Gale in the bottom of the 13th to walk it off for the Blue Jays. Bowling also had a 2-run double in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

With a 5-2 lead heading to the bottom of the ninth, I relieved starter Paul Splittorff with Mark Littell, who after three confidence-boosting outings deserved a shot at reclaiming his role as the team’s closer. He blew it.

KC had 15 hits and drew 8 walks in the game, but also stranded 12. The Jays left only 3 runners on base in this one.

We’ll take a day off to travel and then commence a 6-game homestand, starting with 4 games in 3 days against the Baltimore Orioles.

***

OFF DAY, Thursday June 2, 1977 ~

We learned that SS Freddie Patek could miss 6-7 weeks with a separated shoulder. That left us with no available shortstop whatsoever unless we bring up an unprepared U.L. Washington, who has a glove of stone and isn't even hitting at AAA.

No way.

We traded AAA prospect Ken Phelps to the Orioles for SS Kiko Garcia, who at 23 years old is horrible with the stick, but his defensive ratings are off the charts. This should solidify at least our middle infield defense until Patek comes back to give the offense a boost with his (slightly better) bat and tremendous speed.

Garcia will be in the starting lineup for the series against the Orioles, the organization he was playing for when this week started.

***

Game 46, Friday June 3, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 8, Orioles 0

WP: Jim Colborn (7-1, 3.65); LP: Rudy May (2-5, 3.96)

Jim Colborn got the homestand started with a complete-game, 3-hit shutout. He went the route, walking 2 and striking out 7. All three Baltimore hits were singles.

Darrell Porter and Jim Mayberry slugged their team-leading 12th home runs and Rico Carty mashed his 5th round-tripper of the season.

Kiko Garcia looked great at shortstop. And though he wasn’t brought in for his bat, he punched a double into the LF-CF gap his first time up and ripped a single his second time. Kid's got some moxie.

The Royals have won 8 of their last 10 and still lost ground on the smoking-hot Texas Rangers, who have won 9 of 10 — and 6 in a row.

We’re still 5.5 games behind the Rangers.

Tomorrow is a twi-night doubleheader with the Orioles.

***

Game 47, Sataurday June 4, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Orioles 8, Royals 1

WP: Jim Palmer (6-4, 1.85); LP: Steve Renko (4-3, 5.28)

The real Jim Palmer showed up this time. Though the Royals collected 12 hits off him, 11 of were singles and scattered across all nine innings.

The Orioles took control during an interminable 6-run outburst against Steve “wreck it” Renko in the third inning. Renko allowed a single, then an RBI triple to Doug DeCinces, then walked the bases loaded, and then the O’s rode a carousel of soft singles to 5 more runs.

KC’s Tom Poquette went 4-for-4 to raise his average to .324. Frank White, now batting leadoff with Freddie Patek hurt, is batting .345 for the season.

***

Game 48, Saturday June 4, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Orioles 5, Royals 4

WP: Scott McGregor (3-1, 4.05); LP: Greg Shanahan (2-4, 7.38); Sv: Dyar Miller (4, 3.82)

Greg Shanahan started and had a 4-1 lead through four innings. Then he surrended a 2-run homer to Andres Mora in the fifth and yielded 2 more runs to the O’s in the top of the sixth.

KC relievers Steve Mingori and Marty Pattin combined on four shutout innings to the end of the game, but the Orioles didn’t let the Royals score again either. KC had runners at first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t push a run across.

Frank White continued his torrid hitting. He went 3-for-5 with a triple, raising his team-leading average to .352. Maybe he should have been batting leadoff all season.

***

Game 49, Sunday June 5, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Orioles 0

WP: Dennis Leonard (3-3, 2.44); LP: Mike Flanagan (7-2, 1.67)

The Orioles got the doubleheader sweep on Saturday, but the Royals won the bookends of the four-game series with impressive shutouts.

Dennis Leonard and Jim Colborn seem to have a friendly intra-team rivalry going on. Both are pitching so well at the moment. Leonard just won his third in a row after three straight losses and two early stints on the injured list. In this one, Leonard went all nine innings. He allowed 4 hits (all singles) and 1 walk while striking out 6.

Leonard and Flanagan had a good duel going for six innings. The Royals scored a single run in the bottom of the sixth to take a 1-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the seventh, sizzling hot Frank White smacked a 3-run homer off reliever Bryn Smith to make it 4-0, and KC never looked back. White went 3-for-5, raising his average to .359.

The team is loving SS Kiko Garcia. In his fourth game since taking over for injured Freddie Patek, Garcia helped turn three double plays. This is a case where the difference in defensive ability (between Garcia and Patek) is noticeable, and totally to Garcia’s benefit.

With White crushing the ball from the leadoff spot, and Garcia sparkling in the field, Patek might find it hard to get back in the lineup when he’s eligible to return sometime in August.

Next, we get two games with the Red Sox. It’s only June and we’re playing reasonably well — but the Texas Rangers just won’t let up on the pressure. We’re in third place, 7 games behind them.

Since May 17, the Rangers are 17-1 and right now are in the middle of an 11-game homestand. They’ll host the AL East-leading Yankees for two games next.

Here’s hoping the Yanks can cool the Rangers off. Stir that straw, Reggie!

***
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Old 05-11-2019, 03:27 PM   #18
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Game 50, Monday June 6, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Red Sox 8, Royals 0

WP: Mike Paxton (3-6, 4.15); LP: Paul Splittorff (3-4, 4.03)

Not that it would have mattered, but I left Splittorff in too long. He gave up 4 runs over eight innings, which wasn’t bad. But I trotted him out for the ninth hoping he could have an uneventful inning and save me from using my bullpen. Big mistake. He gave up 4 more runs, almost as if pitching in protest, and I had to yank him.

Boston’s Paxton had us completely subdued, scattering 5 hits over a complete-game shutout. Jim Rice (12) and George Scott (10) launched homers in this one.

We are now 8 games behind the Rangers, who just won their 9th in a row.

***

Game 51, Tuesday June 7, 1977

At Kansas City

Red Sox 6, Royals 3

WP: Rick Wise (2-6, 4.20); LP: Jim Colborn (7-2, 3.89); Sv: Bill Campbell (3, 6.67)

The Red Sox’ long slump is over. Worse, the Sox might have helped the Royals into a slump of their own.

Fred Lynn hit a pair of triples and both Jim Rice (13) and Butch Hobson (12) cracked homers as Boston won its second in a row on the road.

The Royals couldn’t get a hit until the fourth inning when they got back-to-back triples from Tom Poquette and George Brett to tie the game 2-2. Lynn’s 2-run triple in the top of the fifth untied it.

Texas finally lost though, so while we missed a chance to pick up a game, we didn’t lose ground this time.

Now it’s on to Minnesota (30-23) where maybe we can at least take over second place from the Twins, who have lost 6 of 10.

***

Game 52, Wednesday June 8, 1977 ~

At Minnesota

Royals 5, Twins 4

WP: Mark Littell (2-1, 8.74); LP: Bill Harris (0-3, 6.17); Sv: Doug Bird (2, 2.45)

Some 22-year-old whats-his-face recently called up from AAA held the Royals hitless for more than five innings. This was nerve-wracking because Greg “Gasoline Can” Shanahan was pitching effectively for once, and it looked like it would go to waste.

The Twins led 2-0 when the Royals finally woke up against LHP Bill Harris in the top of the sixth. Frank White doubled with one out and scored on a 2-out John Mayberry single to cut the lead in half. Then in the top of the eighth, KC took the lead on a 2-run jack by Al Cowens, his 9th of the season. Later, Amos Otis crushed his 9th as well, a rocket shot over the CF wall.

The Royals led 5-2 going to the bottom of the ninth. The Twins’ Dan Ford hit a 2-run homer (his 6th) off Doug Bird, who went on to nail down the save.

Shanahan had his best start of the season: 2 runs (0 earned) over 6 innings on 7 hits, 2 walks and 1 strikeout. Mark Littell pitched two quality innings to earn the win.

NOTE: I just saw why the Twins have been struggling. Their top two pitchers, Dave Goltz and Geoff Zahn, are out with major injuries. Zahn is out for the season, Goltz for the next three weeks.

***

Game 53, Thursday June 9, 1977 ~

At Minnesota

Twins 9, Royals 7

WP: Tom Johnson (2-2, 2.18); LP: Steve Mingori (1-2, 6.00)

The Royals' bullpen blew this one — it’s the 12th time this season the KC pen has bungled away a lead after 6 innings.

Steve Renko had a shaky start, but got through five innings, allowing 5 runs on 9 hits with 5 walks and 0 strikeouts. Marty Pattin pitched a solid sixth and seventh innings, while the Royals held a 7-5 lead. I should have left Pattin in — he has the highest stamina of all the relievers — but didn’t want to push my luck.

I turned to left-hander Steve Mingori, who hadn’t pitched in a while. The rest is misery.

In the bottom of the eighth, Mingori got only 1 out while yielding a run and loading the bases on 2 hits and 2 walks. I next turned to Mark Littell, who had pitched two solid innings the day before. He walked in both the tying and lead runs, then gave up a sacrifice fly for Minnestoa’s 9th run. All 4 runs in the inning were charged to Mingori, as they should have been.

Now it’s on to Milwaukee for a weekend series. For all their troubles, the Twins are still in second place by a half game, because the Royals failed to hold another late-game lead.

***
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Old 05-12-2019, 02:50 PM   #19
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"Here’s hoping the Yanks can cool the Rangers off. Stir that straw, Reggie!"

That made me laugh out loud!!
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:00 AM   #20
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Game 54, Friday June 10, 1977 ~

At Milwaukee

Brewers 6, Royals 1

WP: Larry Sorensen (5-2, 3.12); LP: Marty Pattin (2-1, 6.16)

The Milwaukee Brewers found the remedy to their 8-game losing streak in my mismanagement of the pitching staff.

I decided I needed more ‘oomph’ in my bullpen, so I moved Greg Shanahan to middle relief (despite the fact his last start was pretty solid) and promoted Marty Pattin to No. 5 starter. But by doing that, I inadvertently pushed red-hot Dennis Leonard off his scheduled start in place of Pattin, who suddenly had to start against the Brewers’ ace.

Pattin was a total washout and was gone after recording just 7 outs. By then the Brewers had scored 5 runs, and with KC mustering only 4 hits for the whole game, that was plenty.

The Royals have quietly lost 4 of their last 5 games and I have the pitching staff back in freefall. There’s a silver lining: LHP Andy Hassler (remember him?) should be back in the rotation by late July. Hassler threw 10 pitches in his only appearance way back in April and went on the DL for 2 months.

***

Game 55, Saturday June 11, 1977 ~

At Milwaukee

Brewers 6, Royals 5

WP: Bill Castro (2-2, 3.72); LP: Doug Bird (5-2, BS #3, 3.00)

Brewers third baseman Don Money poked a 2-out, 2-run walk-off single through the left side of the infield to lift the Brewers to the win. Yeah, fine, he was money.

The Royals trailed 4-0 after Milwaukee tagged starter Dennis Leonard for 4 runs — including a 2-run jack by Sal Bando (8th). KC rallied back, taking the lead in the top of the 8th with a 2-run triple by Hal McRae followed by a 2-run homer by Darrell Porter (14th) off reliever Bob McClure.

But newly-annointed closer Doug Bird couldn’t hold it in the bottom of the ninth.

***
Game 56, Sunday June 12, 1977 ~

At Milwaukee

Brewers 8, Royals 5

WP: Gary Beare (4-2, 4.90); LP: Paul Splittorff (3-5, 4.40)

The Brewers rocked starter Paul Splittorff for seven runs over the third, fourth and fifth innings to erase an early 4-1 lead for KC, which has now dropped 4 straight and 8 of its last 10.

The really hard thing about a slump — besides the losing — is not knowing if it’s part of the natural ebb and flow of a long season or if the problems are deeper and more persistent. The bullpen has been an issue all season, and I never got a handle on it in my 1976 Royals SIM, either.

We’re not the worst team in baseball, but boy are we starving for a win right now.

Unfortunately, we’re on our way to New York to take on the Yankees next.

***
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